Why Many Californians Don’t Trust the Vendors of Electronic Voting Systems and Election Officials Who Defend Them4 min read

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Good people, many of them county elections officials, ask why election integrity advocates don’t trust vendors and elections officials. There are many reasons and examples.

The statement by the Sequoia Voting Systems official after California Secretary of State Bowen’s hearing on Monday on the reports by computer experts on the vulnerability of electronic voting machines is just one example. In Alameda County we tried for months to get a real attack test on the Sequoia equipment prior to it being purchased. Sequoia and the county elections officials blocked it. There was even law suit to get some real testing done!!! But the Board of Supervisors backed down and listened to the Registrar of Voters. Instead, we once again had people sitting in a room examining documents and thinking about possibilities. Even this study came up with a number of serious security issues.

Yet here is what the Sequoia representative said:

”In summary, a more effective test would have been for the Red Team to have attacked a simulated target jurisdiction. Said jurisdiction would have prepared the equipment in keeping with traditional, current, and legally mandated equipment and procedural safeguards. The results of this test would have pointed out true weaknesses in election process security and provided real data from which governments could have improved their security profile. As it stands today, all that has been proven is that any computerized system, removed from its environment and placed, in this case almost literally, out in the street or into a laboratory for anyone to tamper with, can be successfully attacked. The data is thus unfortunately muddled by the inappropriate test methods, forcing governments to separate the wheat from the chaff of its ramifications for secure elections.”

I wonder why he didn’t feel that way when we were trying to do just that in Alameda County? How about in Riverside County when one of the Supervisors made a 1000 to 1 bet that the machines couldn’t be hacked and then backed down?

Secondly, how dare the elections official from Napa County shake his finger at Debra Bowen and say “Shame on You”? She was elected by the people and is doing her constitutional duty. Shame on him for making this something personal, for his poor and incredibly disrespectful behavior. But I will give most elections officials the benefit of the doubt that he is an outlier and doesn’t really represent them, just as I am sure that the elections officials can tell the serious election integrity advocates from the fringe. Right? Yet, it is not unusual for elections officials to treat election integrity activists in a condescending manner.

Third, is it really true – the quote in the newspaper – that Steven Weir is suggesting that County Elections Officials may not follow the law if they don’t agree with the Secretary of State? How do you think that makes voters feel? I sure hope it was a misprint or taken out of context – though I would like to hear the context in which it was said.

Fourth, many Elections officials say they are doing what they are legally supposed to do – using Federally qualified and state certified equipment. Well, LA County isn’t.

And finally, even after it is made clear over and over again that the federal testing is not being done or is insufficient – I don’t hear a hue and cry from elections officials demanding that the vendors be punished or the testing authority be punished or refuse to use systems that have not been properly tested or demanding their money back. If they were really trying to protect the security of my vote, why aren’t they joining in the movement instead of fighting it?

That’s why their integrity is constantly in question. Why don’t they demand more security instead of bending over backwards to help out the vendors?

Michelle Gabriel is a resident of Oakland, CA and has been an ardent election integrity advocate for the last 3 years. She holds a B.S. and M.S. from M.I.T and an MBA from U.C. Berkeley. In the summer of 2006, she wrote a manual on how to monitor California elections. As a key member of the McNerney Election Protection Taskforce she trained over 100 volunteers deployed in 4 counties on what to watch for at the polling place. Her manual and the report of the taskforce can be found at//www.countedascast.com/resources/monitoring.php.

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